Hoi An, Vietnam has been in the news recently for being under four feet of rainwater from a typhoon. Shell-shocked tourists recalled the five days they spent, trapped on the highest floor of their hotels, endlessly playing cards and slurping instant noodles.
Normally, however, Hoi An is famous for a more colorful, delightful reason: custom-made clothing!
The town is small, golden-yellow-walled, and filled with delighted tourists. Every few blocks, a swirly-roofed temple peeks from behind an ornate gate. Cross the arched bridge above the coffee-colored river to a line of restaurants which tout Hoi An’s culinary specialties. Our favorite was “white rose”: a soft and succulent shrimp dumpling!
So how do the custom-made clothing (and shoe!) stores work? Walk in, pick a style from the mannequin models, a pattern book, or your own favorite clothing, pick a fabric (there are absolutely gorgeous silks fresh from the silk farms and factories in the countryside), get measured, and wait a few hours. Presto: you have an amazing new outfit!
Alas, it was pouring rain in Hoi An and we feared another typhoon, and thus we hightailed it out of town before I could get my dream dress of luminous purple and green silk.
Hoi An, you are as lovely as everyone says, and perhaps one day I shall return and buy you up and down!